Why my anxiety won't win.

Friday, July 29, 2016

I won't let this beat me.
I've come quite a long way since this time last year - and I want to take a moment to reflect on that. I have no idea whether this post will go live or not, but I think typing out the self-evaluative-thoughts I'm cultivating right now will do me the world of good.

I've made a lot of changes recently.

Eating

I eat much better now. Food is no longer an 'outlet' for me - I do slip sometimes but quite frankly, it won't go away overnight. But I'm so much better in managing that side of my life its having an incredibly positive impact on my anxiety. I've switched a lot of my favourite comfort foods out for healthier alternatives - but I do keep a bag of Malteasers around because I'm not depriving myself entirely. That just wouldn't work for me.

Exercising

Because I'm eating better, I'm exercising. I've started off pretty small, doing 50 (girly) push-ups, and 50 crunches per night. After a week, I began adding 10 to each of those. Once I've reached 100 (10 lots of 10 as I do each exercise in 10's) I will drop back to 50, then add another exercise such as squats - adding 10 each night and so on. I let a friend in on my fitness journey and together we've created a Pinterest Board to keep us motivated - each night we tend to WhatsApp each other to get ourselves onto the fitness mats. It works for me!

Dressing

Thanks to eating and exercising, I've noticed my frame is changing. That's feeding my confidence, and thanks to that I'm moving away from the black wardrobe I had acquired and into more adventurous things. Last year, I'd have never thought of wearing a dress - this year, that's all my dressing rail contains. It feels good to me. To have people compliment me on how something looks or ask where I bought something from?

At first it was uncomfortable, I'd be very insecure and think that they were being sarcastic. But over time, its come to feel.. Well, nice.

Socialising

Socially, I did one major thing. It wasn't easy. It didn't just happen overnight - I faltered, I let people down, I cried a lot. But it gets easier.

I started saying yes.

Yes, I'd love to meet you for a coffee after work. Yes, I'd love to go to the pub to celebrate her birthday. Yes, I'd love to go to Bingo with you. Yes yes yes yes. Overcoming those situations - no matter how uncomfortable it may have been - helped me gain the thought strategies to overcome the next one. Going to bingo each Thursday with my Mother in law gave me the thought patterns to talk to people using small talk. Small talk helped me at the pub. Being at the pub waiting in line with the other girls helped me purchase things from a server. That allowed me to take charge in a restaurant with ordering for friends.

Each experience fed from another experience, like each one was a block in a giant wall. It might be a wonky wall with a few holes in it, but its sturdy and now I'm sat on it waiting for the next brick to add.

Because of all the changes I've slowly incorporated, my anxiety? Its not gone. Its still there, biting at my when I'm not expecting it - but its easier to change my thought pattern to something else. Instead of thinking "I don't want to walk in there, people are there.." I'm thinking "Tilly, last time you went into that room you had three conversations. You enjoyed yourself."

It just won't win. I know the battle isn't over yet - but it's just that. Its not over yet, I'll win this.

The July Lust List

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Every month I have a bookmarks folder filled with little bits around the internet I've seen and loved, and I never really share them so.. That's about to change. Welcome to my lusty lists filled with bits and pieces I've fallen head over heels for so I hope someone else somewhere does too.


Cute Bunny Ballerina Flats, available via Ebay (£14.99)
Mermaid ornament, available via George at ASDA (£10)
Stag with flowers ornament, available via George at ASDA (£12)
Cantebury Grey Rose Bedding, available via Tesco (£17.99)

I think the arrival of Rusty has had an influence on my list this month - lots of cute bunny goodness! I adore the shoes and I want to get my mitts on them before I start work again as I know they'll be a total hit with everyone. ASDA have some absolutely stunning home ware available at the moment, the pieces I picked above are only a tiny show of what they have. Go have a look if you are just as obsessed with knick-knacks for your home as I am.

If you have any recommendations please leave them in the comments, I truly adore discovering new brands and I'd love to see your lusty lists this month!

Warrington Museum and Art Gallery.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

When we finally settled on a trip to Warrington Museum with the children, I didn't know what to expect. Sometimes museums are a bit of a miss with me as I just don't engage with them - and the children aren't much different. I didn't look at the website before I left the house and presumed it was going to be a dowdy walk around a museum dedicated to the various trades and specialities of Warrington. Not a bad thing, but.. Not really my thing either.

Boy was I wrong.

This museum wasn't all dreary trade information and local history - thankfully for me!
The unassuming building is nestled into the cultural quarter of Warrington, we did get a little lost trying to find it due to the one way system but we soon found a parking space almost next door to it before venturing inside.

The huge red brick building doesn't really look out of place in the cultural quarter.
One thing I've noticed since moving to this side of the Pennines is the red brick that makes up the towns and cities here. In Yorkshire, its very much stone based - here it is a little bit of a shock to the system to see huge buildings made of red brick everywhere the eye can see!

The museum is spread over a number of levels, although it is completely accessible as every floor has a lift.
As you can see, the entrance hall is very impressive. While I haven't included photographs of everything as I do want to save a few surprises for visitors, we were all taken aback as we entered. Huge marble statues welcome you in, and the size of the museum itself does start to sink in. Its worth mentioning that lifts make the whole museum accessible for those who need it, which is a refreshing change for such an old building.

The first room we entered was certainly an eye opener.
The staff are incredibly friendly and attentive, pointing you in the right direction when you arrive at the first landing. The museum is very much a free roaming area, so you can decide which way you'd like to go and follow your own route. There is a lot to take in when you wander the rooms, as we had two children who were aware of some of the items being a little.. Kooky and mysterious, we didn't have chance to really soak in each and every item. Its on our agenda to come back and really invest some time into each room (except one, I'll get to that later.)

Me, completely enthralled in the first person my eyes settled on when we entered.
Of course, I had to read more about one of the centrepieces of the room. A Mummy. What struck me firstly, was how small the Mummy itself was - I presumed it was a replica and was there to show how the full sized versions looked. How I was wrong. The Mummy is a fourteen year old boy. The images I was looking at were x-rays that the museum had done, to really see what was inside the wrappings and they weren't to be disappointed. It was a very surreal and poignant moment to stand in front of a pedestal in front of such an incredible piece of history.

A display case dedicated to various whalebone artifacts and tools used by the Inuit.
This case was dedicated to Egypt and snippets about the Book of the Dead.
As you can likely tell, the vast collection of items (over 200,000) is very eclectic and I'm barely even scraping the tip of the iceberg with what I'm sharing with you here. These are just the pieces that really stood out to me, although there are plenty that you need to go see in person - the mermaid was a revelation to little Miss!

One of the interactive areas provided that were a huge hit with our children!
These areas encouraged children to touch, wear and play with certain items allowing them to satiate their curiosity without damaging anything!
I really do advocate interactive areas in museums, and Warrington Museum have executed this perfectly. There was colouring and activity pages with pens and pencils, more practical items such as the armour above with a variety of helmets children could try on, and more sensory based material swatches which dissuaded people from touching statues and damaging them. It was absolutely fantastic. Another huge nod goes to the drawers featuring in exhibits, allowing little Miss to run around opening each one learning about what was inside - really engaging for children and a fantastic idea!

A child's gas mask on display during the armoury exhibit.
Uniforms and various military related items lined these display cases.
The armoury room allowed us a little more time to investigate thanks to the children being occupied trying armour on and colouring in, so it was nice to take a little more in. We weren't the only ones in the room and it didn't feel constricted, even with another family of four wandering the room.

The geology room was impressive, a scale model of 'The Warrington Dinosaur' overseeing everything.
Into the fossil room - this hoard of Ammonites is incredibly impressive!
A beautiful 'slice' of an Ammonite fossil showing each section of shell.
Thefossil room was a favourite for me - not only were there lots of fossils, dinosaur footprints and geological anomalies on display it was filled with gems and crystals too. Again, drawers were available for the children to pull out and investigate which were filled with things to touch and play with - I can't stress how much this engaged our youngsters.

'The Warrington Dinosaur.'
Yes, Warrington has its own dinosaur! From what I read, footprints were found in hand-like shapes in local quarries, and it caused quite a stir. It was all found to come from a creature similar to this, so he features quite heavily in the folklore around Warrington. A button allowed us to listen to a snippet about it, as well as hear what it sounded like - a hit with the little ones.

No matter where you looked, something was there to investigate and read about!
A view down into the first room, with the fourteen year old Mummy.
At this point, I have to confess I did have a little bit of a panic attack. You see, this room was filled with fish. I have a very irrational phobia of fish, and as soon as I saw the first sliver of wall with one or two of them I knew I couldn't go ahead. I tried! Mike even tried to lead me through the room with closed eyes, but then the tears came and I couldn't. Fight or flight takes over when this happens, and I either feel my chest tighten and pass out or.. Well, other unsavoury reactions, which I can't control. So I missed this room and wandered back down to the stairs by exploring the art galleries. Thankfully a staff member was able to direct me around this room so it could be missed and I re-joined my family on the other side.

The upper gallery I escaped to, in order to calm myself down. This was filled with some gorgeous, modern art.
Downstairs, older pieces of art on huge canvases were in pride of place.
These pictures were strictly a 'do not touch' exhibit!
The oil painting gallery was a sight to behold - the canvases were so big they took up most of the wall, and the bits that weren't taken up by the artwork were taken up by the extravagant frames. These were all displayed behind roped off areas, as oil paintings are incredibly delicate and can be damaged by the sweat from fingers.

It wasn't all about art on walls however, cabinets displayed some ornate pieces like this urn allowing you to have a real close look.
Marble statues were also on display - with a sensory, tactile option of a piece of marble you can touch instead of people going ahead and touching the statues themselves. I was glad of this because little Miss is very tactile and likes to touch, so it gave her that opportunity without me having to explain how her fingers could damage things!

I can't stress to you enough how much there is in this museum. I've barely even scratched the surface! You need to go have a wander and immerse yourself there to truly appreciate the scale of how amazing it is. Obviously, I haven't shared each and every room and I didn't share some of the more interesting pieces, because as its a free exhibition I want people to go visit. Please, if its one thing you do during summer with the children - get yourself to Warrington Museum!

Lymm Dam and nature reserve, Cheshire.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Lymm Dam, from the bridge.
We had some beautiful weather this weekend, so taking advantage of that we ventured to Lymm Dam. It was bustling with people, some walking dogs and some.. Well, capturing Pokémon. We parked the car and set off on an adventure - keeping an eye on the woods around us as we'd been told to expect some surprises.

Just below the church, there is a rock formation named 'the bluffs'.
The rocks are very climbable, and the children had some good fun exploring them while I read out the information provided. There are only two rock formations of its type in the UK which makes it a popular tourist spot - its caused by glaciers melting and eroding around the rocks, resulting in the strange formations you see.

People have left their mark on the formation, leaving a story to tell behind.
Over the years people have left their names carved into the rocks, which isn't to everyone's tastes.. I like it, I like the fact you can read names which have been there years and years. But I can also understand the point of view of locals who might not appreciate the defacing of their local landmarks!

Exploring the local fauna with little Miss!
I confess. At this point when we were looking at some gorgeous pink wildflowers, and catching an Oddish. I didn't spend a lot of time looking for Pokémon, but its a wonderful way to engage little Miss in the environment as a nature reserve isn't the most exciting thing for her - she prefers fairs and 'fun' things but we think its important both children learn about the wilds a little. She soon picked up on being near the waterline was different to being in the woods, and vice versa!

The picnic area, a short walk from the bluff.
This was the picnic area - it was only a short walk from the bluffs we explored, yet it was secluded enough to feel private and safe. The area was incredibly tidy, something I always appreciate when out exploring local places.

You know I love my mushrooms!
I haven't identified this one yet so we didn't pick it. I do enjoy finding mushrooms in the wild, they scare me and intrigue me in equal measures. I think its because they look so alien to me!

Its hard to truly represent the scale of this tree - it was absolutely huge!
This was the busiest part of the walk for us - some local children had created a tree swing and were having a little bit of fun. The path wound around the side of the water, although there was a considerable drop to the water - I used to make tree swings as a child but these children were much braver than I was.

Followed by the kookiest Oak tree I've ever seen.
We were still watching the trees for 'something', Mike had warned us about something we had to watch for but we weren't quite sure just what yet.

'The Wishing Bridge.'
This was a lovely little area! We all made a wish while on the bridge, and kept it a secret because only secret wishes come too right?

'Gateway to Narnia.'
This was so much fun for the children! The first of the carvings we hadn't expected. You could climb in to try pass through to Narnia, but it was closed to us that day. Inside was kept rustic and natural with a few mushrooms having moved in.

A dragonfly carving we spotted on the woodland walk.
A dragonfly! The children were fully on board with the hunt for carvings now, and it was the little Miss that spotted this one. Some were pretty hard to spot so I'm sorry if we missed any on our pass through - we'll be back to take another path soon!

An interactive carving, allowing people to pose in the wooden frame.
We all had a photograph taken with this wooden frame - there were steps leading up to the back of it, so from the front it looks like you have your own wooden pedestal. It was a steep clamber to get up to, but the photographs were well worth it.

The scariest carving ever. Honestly, this creeps me out so much.
I don't like this guy. I don't really know what else to say, I've seen enough horror movies to know this guy is probably going to come alive at night and eat small children..

This guy looks like Groot - we like this one. Much less creepy.
Much better! Again, little Miss found this one and it was much less disturbing than the previous carving we had found. The carvings are so varied and well made, they don't look out of place in the woodland. If anything, they add a certain something - a certain magic - to the walks!

If only everyone could have a back gate leading to a beautiful view.
We were coming to the end of the trail around the water now sadly. The pathways were incredibly well tended, and its very obvious that the people of Lymm have a lot of pride (rightfully so!) in this gem. As we walked, we did see a lot of fishermen using the area as well as model boat enthusiasts which was reassuring - I like seeing beauty spots getting love and attention.

The church we started our walk from nestled into the beautiful woodland surroundings.
The view from the opposite side we started on. The church is close to where we parked, so it was a good milestone to point out for the children who were resorting to Pokémon again at this point - again, not a bad thing! A lot of families were out as a whole group playing the game and we had a lot of comments about what we caught / where to catch certain monsters. As two adults and two children it added a whole new level of interaction to the walk.

We didn't explore The Dingle - but another day we will come back to visit.
And we finished!

We had a well deserved ice lolly from the ice cream van as we crossed the dam itself back to the car. I do want to come back to explore the other areas Lymm has to offer as it looks full to the brim of local hideaways and treasures - we only had a snippet! Watch this space!

(A photo an hour) Our trip to Medway, Kent.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I haven't done a 'Photo an Hour' post before! Mostly because some of my days consist of me sitting binge-watching horror on Netflix, knitting or watching Rusty run around the living room. But on the 16th of July we had something a little more exciting to do - Mike was representing England in the Wheelchair Rugby Sevens, in a match against France!

Photographs taken on a Galaxy S6 Smartphone.

8AM setting off, the weather wasn't so pretty in the morning.

9AM checking we had the correct change for the tolls!

10AM heading through the tolls to avoid traffic this early on a Saturday morning.

11AM finally London is appearing on the road signs!

12PM we stopped at a services, and while I took advantage of the free WIFI Mike ordered me one of his favourite salads. Naturally, I was catching Pokémon at this point.

1PM Dartford Crossing. We didn't realise the tolls had been removed from the crossing until we passed through!

2PM we made it! I settled down into the stands as Mike went to go get the days plan from his team mates.

3PM watching some of the other games taking place - with my Poundland-found Disney tote. There are no better princesses than Aurora right?

4PM essential chair repairs taking place - the back posts of Mike's sports chair had made holes in the fabric so I darned the holes for him.

5PM with fifteen minutes until kick off, this is the time to sand off the grime his chair has collected from the sports halls. Its not a pretty job but very much a needed one to help his tyres grip the polished flooring.

6PM half time break! Just before the teams resumed play there was a moment the whole hall came together to stand against the atrocities in France. It was beautiful.

7PM and the final score! The French team were a new, freshly introduced team this year so I can't wait to see what they can do next year. The England team have a lot of experience invested in players like Mike - and some new talent coming through too.

8PM and the medals were presented - I'm a very proud WAG. Mike has played wheelchair rugby league for a lot of years, our home is filled with trophies and medals but this is the first for the sevens tournament.

9PM the journey home, punctuated by a quick stop for sweet coffee and a bite to eat (a steak and cheese roll, a favourite of Mike and he earned it!) and we started the drive back to Warrington.
I decided that was enough photographs - simply because we were both incredibly tired and it was a dark, dreary drive home in the rain. Looking over the photographs, I'm aware it might seem a little bit of an odd day to document - but I thought it time we shared our links to disability sports on the blog a little. It does crop up in our daily lives quite often, and I've never included the matches, tournaments and training on the blog really. I don't play - my parents coach and manage their own wheelchair rugby league team, Mike has represented England and Wales in the sport while I happily indulge in spectating (and repairs).

Thank you for spending the day with us! Please, feel free to leave comments below with any questions - I'm happy to answer them!
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